Ride The Kingdom Trails

By Mike Boisvert.

Kingdom Trails
East Burke, VT

Vermont's Northeast Kingdom had long been a haven for an oddball mix of loggers, hippies, and ski bums. Nestled in the northeast corner of Vermont, a region of rolling hills, small farms plots and old New England charm is a tiny slice of knobby tire paradise.

But the region is undergoing a face-lift courtesy of the rapidly growing mountain-biking commune of East Burke. East Burke, population 1,700 sits almost entirely on winding Route 114. In the 1980's a few local riders started to bike logging roads in the surrounding wilderness. By 1994 they'd formed the Kingdom Trails Association, a not-for-profit community-operated organization that has developed more than 120 miles of double and single-track mountain bike trails, said by many to be the best in the east. Trails include some technical, lots of easy and intermediate, singletrack, doubletrack, and old logging roads. For the lover of single-track, the follower of flow and the devotee of ripping lines, the Kingdom Trails are a beacon worthy of pilgrimage.

Now the one-gas station village draws 300 mountain bikers to its 120-plus-mile network of trails on weekends. The riding is classic East Coast: sections of technical rocks and roots interspersed with fast creek beds, tricky corners and punchy climbs, all underneath a canopy of maple leaves and white pine needles.

The lure, beyond the supportive local landowners, is a unique sandy esker that skirts the hillside town. The glacial deposit drains runoff quickly, so the trails stay dry even after heavy rains. They're ski bums up there, so they don't like going slow and hopping rocks. They make bike trails that allow you to feel like you're flying through a glade in winter.

The majority of the trails are cross-country, though there are several downhill runs and a freeride trail. New trails are being added each year. The trails on Burke Mountain are  suaceptible to weather. See the Kingdom Trails blog or their Facebook site for the latest trail conditions.

There are a few different accesses to the trails. Most of the trailheads are are accessible within riding distance of the Kingdom Trails office, the headquarters of the organization that runs and maintains the vast trail system. Start at the Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville, VT on Darling Hill off from route 5. Or you can pick up the trail from route 114 in East Burke, or from Burke Mountain on the Mountain Road from East Burke.

Before all else, head to the office: there you will find trail maps and friendly faces to help you plan a loop on the spiderweb network of trails. Camping is plentiful, as are quaint inns and B&Bs; good food is also easy to find. But that's all periphery; in the summer, it's all about the singlep-track.


Darling Hill Trails: A network of three-to-ten-mile loops with options for any ability level. Contains some of the most famous Kingdom Trails, including Kitchel, Webs, Sidewinder, Tody's Tour and Piners.

Burke Mountain Trails: Burke offers some physically and technically demanding terrain, gaining difficulty towards the top of the mountain. Lower slopes include the much-loved Enchanted Forest and Dead Moose Alley trails, while the peak holds more extreme downhill and free-ride options. The Burke Mountain chairlift operates on weekends from mid-September to mid-October. IdeRide provides a shuttle service on weekends from the village to the summit. Bike rentals and repairs are available at East Burke Sports across the street from the Kingdom Trails Welcome Center.

Trail pass: Adults (16-69) $10/day, youth (8-15) $5/day, $50/season includes map; Chairlift: $5/ride, $15/day (2010)

Glacial Lakes Loop [Road]: Sixty-nine miles of rolling and hilly terrain from East Burke north to Morgan via Island Pond, the back north via Westmore and West Burke. 


Getting There Air: Burlington International Airport or Montreal-Trudeau.

Getting There Car:  Kingdom Trails is located about 14 miles north of St Johnsbury in the northeast corner of Vermont. From Interstate 91, take exit 23, Route 5 north to route 114 north, 6 miles to the Village of East Burke. The Welcome Center is located beside the Bailey's and Burke Building in East Burke Village.


High End: The Wildflower Inn offers bike wash stations, an incredible in-house restaurant and beautiful rooms all within easy riding distance of the best trailheads.

Mid-Range: Relax on the front porch at Hollyberry's B&B.  Fresh muffins, donuts and coffee cakes accompany your continental breakfast.

Budget: Burke Mountain Campground lies in the middle of Burke Mountain's vast trail network, with single track weaving between campsites.

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